Sir William Carey

The Father of Modern Missions in the East

William Carey was born on August 17, 1761 in a Small thatched cottage in Paulerspury, an obscure village in Northamptonshire, England. William,s parents, Edmund and Elizabeth were poor weavers. Edmund was appointed as a teacher in the village Charity School. He was unusually a dilligent scholar and intent in the pursuit of knowledge.

The boy William displayed , from his early years, a passionate interest in the surroundings, particularly in plants and animals. He conceived of a building up a museum from his own after hearing about the British Museum from his Father. He collected specimenswere preserved in his room.

At that time his uncle Peter Carey trained him in agriculture and infused in him a passionate love for natural objects. William, at the age of eleven, gathered information about American Colonies, Slavery etc. from a weekly Newspaper "Northampton Mercury". At the age of fourteen William had to start work to earn his living. At first he became an agricultural labourer. But exposure to heat of the sun distressed him very much. His parents, unable to do much for him, appreticed him to Clark Nichols, a shoe maker of Piddington. In 1779 William passed through crisis regarding his loyalty to the Church of England. He joined the Baptists of Hackleton. At the death of Nicholos, William joined the farm of Mr.Old of Hackelton. In July,1781 he married Dorothy Placket. Mr.Old died and and he was obliged to continue the business by himself. In 1782, he came in contact with Sutcliff, Ryland and Fuller from whom he derived inspiration. He had, by that time, started preaching and learning Greek and Hebrew. Later on learnt French and Dutch also. He was then passing through very hard days by sustaining serious losses in the business. In 1785 he came to Moulton and started slowly to lead a more settled life. The village shoemaker was then fully recognized as a Baptist Minister. After four years William heard the missionary call. The idea took possession of him that he should dedicate himself to remove human sufferings. In a meeting at Olney in 1786, he first uttered the proposal for mission in other countries. It was to those poor ministers an absurd dream. William was disappointed at their cold reaction but not discouraged. Between 1786 and 1790 mission was the chief topic of his conversation. In order to reach a wider public he presented an amazing appeal in his book 'Enquiry', but could not publish it. William then moved to Leicester from Moulton. His modest stipend was slightly higher, but still he had to maintain struggle with poverty. In 1791 Carey and Fuller tried their best to convince their group to organise a missionary appeal that had ever been written. Carey then proceeded to press home the massage of his book and urged immediate action on the line suggested therein. His untiring efforts and long persuasion at last met with success when on 30th May,1792 the Baptist Ministers resolved to form a Missionary Society. The most anxious question of selection of the country was solved at the appearance of John Thomas at that time. Carey's attention was turn from Tahiti to India with which Thomas had previous acquaintance. After carefully examining the statement of Thomas about Bengal, the Baptist Missionary Society agreed to send Carey and Thomas as missionaries in Bengal. On the 13th June,1793 to start their journey towards Bengal. On the 11th November,1793 they landed in Calcutta and they met Ram Ram Basu, the munshi of Thomas and Carey immediately engaged him as his Munshi. After eight months of his arrival in Bengal he started his missionary work, language learning and translation of the Bible into Bengali.

His poor wife was in distressing state, lost his dear son, Peter, sustained not a little pain at unkind criticism of Home Committee and at last he became unemployed when George Udeny sold out his Indigo factory.

At the end of 18th century, four other missionaries, Marshman, Ward, Bransdon, and Grant arrived in Bengal to join with him. But they were compelled to take Shelter in the Danish Coloney Serampore due to East India Company's prohibition on the missionaries. The Danish Government gladly sheltered them with assurance of protection. Carey, for safety, decided to instal missionary center at Serampore where he arrived on 10th, January 1800. On that day Serampore Mission was founded. Within a short time Serampore became the greatest center for propagating Christianity in the East and Carey undertook the responsibilities of Bible translation, finance, and the medical chest. Work of the Press, School, Preaching etc. started without any delay. In August 1800, St. Mathew, portion of the new Testament was printed, bound separately and distributed along with two other Bengali tracks written by Munshi Ram Ram Basu. This is the first printed Bengali Book. In 1801 Carey was requested to be the professor of Bengali of the Fort William College of Calcutta established to educate the young civilians.Latter on,he was appointed the professor ofSanskrit and Marathi also.he is the first Europeanto deliver lecture in Sanskrit.From 1808 Carey started the most eventfulof his lifeand the golden period of Serampore Mission also started from that time.Bible was ,by that time,wholly or partly transleted by Carey in Sanskrit, Bengali, Marathi, Oriya, Hindustani, Gujrati, Panjabi, Telugu, Kurnata, Burmese and Parsian.He learnt Sanskrit and 31 other Indian languagesand this knowladge was mainly used for translation of scriptures and preparation of grammars, dictionnaries,vacabularies etc.As a translator of Bible he is considered as an outstandig figure of his age.Between 1800 and 1832 Serampore press printed books in48 languages of which 45 were Bible traslation.

Carey's Sons were also settled in life. Felix, Jabez and William were ordained in missionary work and settled in Burma , Amboyana and Katwa. Jonathan was settled in Calcutta doing some secular work. Besides Bible translation Carey compiled grammers in Bengali, Sanskrit, Telugu, Panjabi, Kurnata, Marathi and Bhotani. Carey's grammers were mainly prepared for the foreigners who were eager to learn the languages of the Country. A junior missionary, Johns returning to England lodged a strong complian against the administration at Serampore. It make powerful impact on the Baptists. The conflict between the Serampore missionaries and BMS started. It was very painful to Carey to be involved in such a conflict.

Carey kept careful attention in making their system of education easily acceptable to the Poor. A Committee was formed and a fund was created to collect donations, though major burden of the expenditures was borne by themselves. Implementing the plan, Schools were established in Serampore area and far off villages. The most surprising success of the Serampore missionaries pleased Lord Hasting so much that he ordered liberal grants to them for establishing schools in Rajputana.Encouraged by the grand success on School education the missionaries boldly stepped forward to establish a College, a highly cherished dream of Carey. By that time the wealthy people of Calcutta had established a College whose admission was restricted to high cast Hindoos only.

But the Carey planned to open the door of his College to all without restriction. He had firm belief in equality of opportunity in education and provided clearly in the statutes of the College that " No caste, colour or country shall bar anybody for admission into Serampore College." With this unique feature, the college started to function, the College started to the function from the 15th August 1818. Its building with ionic pillars and grand portico was completed at the cost of Rs.150,000 (entirely borne by Carey and the other missionaries themselves) in 1821.

1818 saw the birth of Indian Journalism at Serampore under the leadership of Carey. The Serampore Missionaries were the first to show the boldness of publishing vernacular period (Digdurshan, April,1818) and newspaper (Samachar Darpan, May 1818) and paved the path of Indian journals to come out one by one. Persian newspaper Akhbare Serampore and Hindi periodical Digdarshan were also published between 1818 & 1827. In 1823, William Ward, the most faithful friend and colleague of Carey died of cholera. Ward was the builder of the world's largest printing establishment in oriental languages at Serampore. The Botanical Garden he established at Serampore was an important centre of research during his lifetime. Besides Botany and Agriculture Carey showed marked interest in other branches of Natural History Museum of his own and that include rich collection of shells, corals, minerals etc. This museum was given to the College by his last will. Carey's contributions in organizing Modern Science education in India are also very remarkable. In 1821 he planned to attach a medical department in Serampore College. The Plan was approved by the British Government who offered help. Due to non availability of a suitable person to take the charge of the department, the plan could not be implemented . Carey and his Serampore brethen extended very widely their helping hands for the removal of the sufferings of the people of Serampore area, specially during epidemics, natural calamaties etc. To train the people in cultivation and preserving seeds Carey founded Agri-horticultural Society of India, Calcutta in 1820 and rendered very useful service to improve agriculture of the country through its help. To protect the innocent poor people from the hands of the greedy and cruel money lenders Carey established a Savings Bank at Serampore in 1819. Serampore Mission's field of activities became too large to be controlled by singular efforts. So, they decided to seek support of the King of Denmark. Marshman went to Denmark for that purpose. The generous King granted the Royal Charter with pleasure, by virtue of which of the Serampore Missionaries recieved the full authority of the property on which the College was established and also of maintaining the Institution independently. The College received the status of the Western University having the power of granting degrees to its Students (The first of its kind in Asia). The Charter also granted the Missionaries independence to select courses of study suitable for India. The main features of the Charter were : (1) It granted authority to the College to the College to promote piety and learning among the native Christians and other youth.(2) It declared that No Cast, Colour, or Country shall bar any body from admission into Serampore College.

On Sunday, 8th June,1834, Carey was seen to be sinking. During the Night his condition became worse and as the day of the 9th June broke his gentle spirit fled to join the Lord he had served so faithfully. He was burried at Serampore alongside the tomb of his beloved Charlotte. We prefer to remember him by his own great words

Attempt Great things for God, Expect Great things from God.